Leave The World Behind, Christian Larson’s documentary about EDM super-act Swedish House Mafia, is a frustrating experience. Following the band on their last tour, the film hints and teases at what could be a potentially very interesting look at the breakup of the greatest DJs of the last decade (a sentiment I agree with). However, Larson never pulls back enough layers or digs down very deep, instead choosing to just gloss over the full story and only address it with superficial insights from the band’s members (Steve Angello, Axwell and Sebastian Ingrosso) that do little to fill in the blanks on what is already a puzzling situation.
When Swedish House Mafia announced that they would be breaking up, fans of the group were in shock. After achieving such monumental success and essentially becoming the modern face of mainstream EDM, we were left stupefied at why the band was going their separate ways. Though Leave The World Behind never promised to be an investigative documentary that would reach the truth of why Angello, Axwell and Ingrosso decided to split, it would have been nice if it did. Instead, we’re left with a mostly enjoyable film but one that always keeps us at arm’s length, never really letting us into the minds of these master DJs and only giving us the type of sugar coated information that’s been fed to the press for well over a year now.
Still, as a fan of Swedish House Mafia and as someone who has seen them live many, many times (including their last tour), it’s hard not to get a bit sentimental while watching Leave the World Behind. The soundtrack is full of their music, and there’s more than enough concert footage to have you yearning for the days when you could head to your favorite summer festival and see them play live. For fans, the film is a pleaser in that sense. Sharply directed and very enjoyable to watch, the footage of these three guys just doing their thing is immensely satisfying. For those looking for some answers or something that digs a bit deeper than what’s already apparent on the surface though, Leave The World Behind might disappoint.
It’s not that Larson sidesteps the breakup or sweeps it under the rug, not at all. The film places a heavy focus on it and we definitely see glimpses of tension and resentment building between the three guys as they speak about the pressures of being one of the biggest acts in the world, and the troubles that comes with achieving such massive success and fame. I just wish that Axwell, Ingross and Angello had been a bit more open about what was really going on, rather than trying to keep everything nice and tidy.
While I completely understand the need to maintain an image, it’s obvious even just from what we see here that something has gone terribly wrong between the guys and as someone who has enjoyed their music for a long time, and respect very much what they do, it would have been nice to see a bit more insight.
Regardless, Leave the World Behind will no doubt please fans of the now almost legendary EDM group. Packed with thrilling concert footage, those who’ve seen them live will be overcome with nostalgia, longing for another chance to party with Axwell, Ingross and Angello. It won’t provide the answers we’re looking for, or give us the closure we need, but as a final farewell to one of the industry’s most exciting acts, Leave The World Behind a more than serviceable effort. It’s just too bad that these guys won’t be saving the world again any time soon.
Leave The World Behind is a slightly shallow, yet still entertaining documentary about one of EDM's most influential groups.